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Book Discussion on An American Bride in Kabul

Phyllis Chesler discusses her book ``An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir.''




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America 10, Kabul 4, Europe 3, Phyllis Chesler 2, Egypt 2, Hitler 2, Burqa 2, Us 2, Sharia 2, Persia 2, Canada 2, Pakistan 2, Islam 2, James Michener 1, Russell 1, Ishmael 1, Omar Sharif 1, Margaret Atwood 1, Mystical Union Between Isaac 1, Periodical 1,
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  CSPAN    Book Discussion on An American Bride in Kabul    Phyllis Chesler discusses her book  
   ``An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir.''  

    March 2, 2014
    8:30 - 9:25am EST  

>> as you see, cherries and the various stages. even though we put them in water, they still have wine in the fruit. so they go through an extensive washing in the process of making maraschino is really basically taking that fruit in the brine and soaking it in a stronger sugar with a stronger solution. and part of that dental, you will see the color intensity picked up. so you can see here is some fruit that is very early in the process. it is lightly colored, the darker color is much farther along. trying to give you an idea. yellow, pink, deep red. it's just that cycle of that in the process.
>> this weekend, but tv and american history tv look behind the history and literary life of salem, a oregon. throughout the weekend on c-span2 and today at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> you're watching booktv. next, phyllis chesler talks about her experiences living in afghanistan in the early 1960s. phyllis chesler became part of a harem and learn about what life was like for many afghan women living under the rule of muslim fundamentalists. this is a little under one hour. >> okay. so for the reasons of the camera i have to look directly over here. >> that is okay. >> i can? all right, that is okay.
i once lived in a harem in afghanistan and i loved my opening sentence. i loved the book out of africa. we had grim adventures that transcended in a single relationship, such adventures could be costly. yes, i once lived in a harem in afghanistan. but i nearly died there as well. a harem simply means the women's quarters and for been to all men who are not relatives. if you can't leave without a male escort. and you are in a harem and living in this way and such was my fate. why did i write this book now? well, afghanistan and its people
seem to have followed me right into the future and the rest. [inaudible] "florida face to face"'s, full-bodied and in the headlines and on the street. afghanistan has also landed in the west and the west is still the plate in afghanistan and no, i don't think that we should be there. ask me about this afterwards. and afghanistan is the country where i was once held hostage in the early it is the same country that shelters bin laden where he hatched his diabolical 9/11 plots after saudi arabia and sudan exiled him. and now the entire civilian world is held hostage to that brand of to hottest terrorism,
to that al qaeda style. this was a very eerie coincidence to me. my adventure lasted more than 15 years when my afghan house and he fled before the soviets invaded. he came to my door here in america and not. and i have been criticized ever since then. but americans and jews have a long tradition of hospitality to those in exile who come to our shores. so i did not turn away from him and from his second wife and their young children. and i recount some of our conversations that took place between 1980 and 2012 in the book. they serve as a conversation between east and west. perhaps like so many of the
others, i'd yearn for a mystical union between isaac and ishmael. i kept company for two and a half years. but i was not a complete fool. and we never once discussed religion or afghanistan and we prided ourselves on being opinions and existentialists and beat max and artistes. and he never prepared me for what his life would be if you never told me that his father had three wives and 21 children, and that i would be expected with my mother-in-law. and that women were still wearing burqa is, even though there was reform underway and he
never mentioned this and it never came out. when we landed there, they smoothly took away my passport. and i said that as my american passport. and they said oh, it's a formality, we will send it to your home. and i never saw the passport again and that becomes an entire chapter in the book because at that moment i became a citizen of no country with no rights in the property of a large and polygamist muslim family. and i thought the is would be romantic, we would travel throughout all of central asia. i found myself instead transported back to the 10th century with no passport back to the future. i lived gender apartheid long before the taliban came to
power. and i understand that that, may indeed, have turned me into the fire and brimstone feminist that i am. such adventures do not come cheaply. a westerner does not travel to the wild east without risking dysentery, pair tight, hepatitis and without risking being kidnapped or held for ransom many western adventures flora-ish, and i write about the fabulous forgotten stories in the book. so in 1846, the british born author visited the middle east and she writes about the harems of cairo. everywhere they pitied as european women, but we had to go about traveling and appearing in the streets without being
properly taken care of. they think us strangely neglected and being left so free and both of their spy system and imprisonment of tokens of the value at which they are held. but could it be dwarfed in nice? ironically the 19th century could not have believed how can find the western visitors were in all of their hoops and corset stays in russell's and we were all straightlaced and sweating in the harem women examined the dresses and the corsets of their western visitors. and so there i was, a first-generation american kid, a scholarship kid, living city
6000 feet above sea level. in a palatial home surrounded by awesome snowcapped mountains and where paganism and judaism had once flourished. yes, buddhism. before the arab invasion resulted in the forced conversion of the afghan people, like so many others around the globe, afghans were once buddhist and pagans and they were hindus. and jews lived among them certainly from the ninth century on and possibly much earlier than that. despite all of my considerations come i will never forget the warmth and the kindness of my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law, who understand
how endangered i was. the female servants were very shy and sweet and entirely without malice. they were also sweeping on the floor with no heat and they worked 24/7 and around-the-clock. i found this as shocking as i found nearly everything else. and the people in general. the afghan people, certainly the men, because most of them only get to meet males and not women. and they had agreed ceremonial tedious and a wild sense of humor and were very funny. i have been told that my father-in-law had help found the modern banking system of the country and it's true. and all of the major export companies these banking functions had hindered the jews and the inhabitants of the
country who overnight were impoverished by a royal edict in the late 1920s and i only discovered that shocking fact is i was researching this book. and my husband is as much a dream as i am. he brought an intellectual pride back to him into the country that had made it alliances with german on c-span also given german occupants safe haven after the temple were. in retrospect, i am irrationally ashamed that i once thought such a country was exotic and beautiful. then there was the matter of the burqa. i was terrified when i saw women huddled at the back of a bus. this is pre-rosa parks in the american south. i thought they were laundry that was moving. i had ran away, i wanted to see
the city. i got on the bus. a very sensible and whimsical design bus. indeed, they were women in burqas, they had a baby, a handbag, a shopping bag. all of the men looked at me because i was naked in the face. and i began to understand why my afghan family were so afraid of my wild western ways. but we would take for granted, it getting up in the morning, taking a walk in the street, totally forbidden, totally dangerous. the public space is not meant for women. and so my afghan family felt that my reaction to the burqa was an overreaction. because they viewed it as a normal thing. they viewed my reaction against it is abnormal and inappropriate. i now know that the koran
mandates modesty for men and women. it does not mandate that women wear claustrophobic ambulatory isolation chamber body bags. that's not in the oran, with women's rights and human rights and this is a very terrifying thing to find yourself in. and there's nothing you can do to rescue her. and i'm not talking about this because it's not a problem. you can see someone's face and features and you can converse with them. they can go about their business in the west. in the 20th century other things. women with faces that are naked, by royal edict in afghanistan, and in egypt and lebanon and
turkey and persia and north africa and to varying degrees, many middle east countries, now they are covered in darkness. now the pendulum has swung back to the seventh century. and it may be coming our way we don't know what to recognize about it. in my lifetime in afghanistan has turned into a margaret atwood dystopian novel. even darker and more misogynist dick than some other tales. giving the increasing persecution and insubordination, i decided to conduct my own five months research to this realize afghan women and muslims today. i hope that my story will serve to bring muslim feminists and dissidents closer to what is presumably american feminism.
now they both change the direction that this book would take. how can i write about afghanistan and muslim intellectuals and muslim homosexuals without also writing about jihad is terrorism and the war against muslim civilians. the perpetual religious war between the sunnis and the shiites. therefore, after against both israel and the west. my views are shared by the muslim and ex-muslim dissidents with whom i work area and we are all anti-islamist and anti-sharia, we oppose totalitarianism, terrorism, gender and religious apartheid and support gay and women's rights. freedom of speech and above all freedom of religion, which means
separation of religion and state. and i have now published free studies and i'm working on a fourth one. and they are published in a quarterly periodical. and i've also talked about those that are looking for asylum in america. and so really why did i go to afghanistan? what could possibly have been going on? well, why else than to be able to tell you about it now at this moment in history. it was kismet that was written in the stars. and clearly it was my best. i would like to end this lecture with a little bit of reading from the book. what, if anything, do i owe
afghanistan? a country where once lived and where i really died. i was there. he remains a part of me. i am now a tiny part of the country's history. i will never forget my time there. the natural splendor that i glimpsed. this is an accounting of sort. a young jewish american woman once came to this wondrous asiatic country and fled here in life. she finally uncover the history of what happened to the jews of afghanistan and of islam, and she has turned this story and told it in order to redeem her soul. she once loved and afghan man. and although it could not work out, they continued talking to each other down through the decades of their lives.
abdul kareem, that's not his real name, a misogynist and a dreamer, living out his days in exile. he turned out to be one of my muses, as did afghanistan itself. i have turned my subsequent lifelong interest into a writers treasure and i experienced what it was like to live with people who are permanently afraid of what other people might think. even more so then usa in small towns. writing this book has put me in touch with what is billed feel for abdul kareem. especially now that he has become a cure your in these pages and we remain connected in our own unspoken ways. thank you.
[applause] >> i could speak on. i'm ready for questions or answers. >> you said you were anti-sharia, one of the things that i wondered is, is there any reconciliation between sharia, and i don't know how to phrase the question -- the western world or the more moderate views? >> one answer is that islam has not had a reform and it is not yet diversified into protestantism or many bridges of belief. that may never happen and it may be fully underway now. so the islam of the seventh century and those who wish to
live stoning, cross amputation, that interpretation of sharia -- we can't live without in the west where we have individual rights and a belief in universal human rights. it's just not possible. luckily we live in a country where we have american law. i know that there is a concern that sharia law will be making its way snakelike into american mom. i'm not so sure that so possible. because i don't see the american courts saying take that woman out and her family can absolutely disown her because she doesn't want to marry her
first cousin. i don't see that happening here. there are many terrible things happening here, but it's not happening through the american court system. and the occur in doesn't mandate this. it's very tribal. it's something that the hindus practice and they only do so in india. when they come to america or europe, they don't bring a custom with them. but the muslims do. but we don't believe in this general asian, but many muslims increasingly do that, especially in egypt. it's under the radar. it's happening here even though we have outlawed it. so that the answer to your important question is if we are vigilant and if we educate ourselves, if we make it our business to know what is happening, then we have american
remedies in western remedies to deal with barbarism. >> what was your question? >> i wanted to know what the role of your parents were when you took off. >> well, i met him when i was a teeny and a half years old are you my mother knew that i was different. she knew that i was a rebel child to i have joined a very left sinus group and went totally against the orthodox judaism of my family. and when the rabbi thundered out of it you can't join that godless outfit, i joined to the left and i was only 10 years old or 11 years old. my mother knew that she had a wild child.
a wild child on her hands from early on. and they were very quiet. my mother knew i would be back. didn't understand that i could be trapped in that i could nearly diet and no one would care and that i could've been buried in a muslim cemetery in some far-flung locale on planet earth. which could happen very easily. and i began hearing about this when i was there. the killings of parents when i was there. to this day when i would bring this up to my afghan husband in the 1990s and early 21st century, he would say that he hadn't heard about. and i have you here about the case in canada where a father and a mother, a biological mother and a biologicals on
inspired kill the first wife who is not the biological mother of anyone and three biological daughters. they are all afghans. the highlight of my research was when i met the prosecutor in this case, and he told me that they had researched this in prosecution. but abdul kareem had never heard of this or any of the other high-profile cases that go on in america. that is because it would be shameful to admit this. so when something is shameful when you think that it is something that is critical, when they get one up on you, and knock you and look down on you, it's like the way we handle incest. it didn't happen. we didn't know about it, and it
was long time ago and it doesn't matter now. so people cover their shame. there is denial and also victimize the true part of this. >> as a result of your experience, what happened with judaism? >> well, initially she is asking how has this experience affected my relationship with judaism. well, for very a very long time there was no connection. i began to note anti-semitism, which was discussed in the book of money 2003. i noted it in left in america and in europe. and i did jewish feminist rituals through the 1970s and through the 1980s. it was only in 1988 when i was in a conference on women's
empowerment and my partner had the idea to go and pray for the first time for just women at the women's section of the western wall. that was a grand moment and i was asked to open this prayer for the women to read from the old testament. and i thought oh, i want to study that. so i have been doing that. in 1989 with much joy and i published it. but that took an enormous format, a great coincidence to be in such a grand moment. we struggle and its 26 years later and when things are happening, this is women of the wall. so if you grow up as i did in
brooklyn, in the early 1940s, girls do not have these opportunities. so i left. i didirls do not have these opportunities. so i left. i did not see a future for myself even though i was known as the smartest in the class. so it's interesting. i believe very strongly in working with religious muslims and i have persuaded those that if we are going to know the resistance movement and we need all this together. the the right to practice religion as as important as the right not to be coerced into practicing that religion. so i would say when i discovered the shameful history of the jews of islam, when we thought that only their european era or the
west is what troubled the jews, when i began to look into the history of the ceaseless infidels in muslim lands, certainly today against christians, but the middle east is now part of being chased out. the question is whether this would be allowed in the state of israel at all hangs in the balance every day and every night. but i didn't know that then. and i never met any jewish person in afghanistan. they may have all left by the time i got there. my mother-in-law whose life was not easy, she feared me and followed me around and made terrible accusations and cursed me. a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, there is
research literature on how they had a relationship in certain countries with the dowry to get a new bride for a new dowry. and there is a special part of a prison only for mother-in-law's that have killed their daughter in laws. so you think of multiple wives, polygamy, you think of multiple childcare, no, the middle rivalries pale in comparison to the rivalry between this, especially with the suns, who want to inherit and look for the very important father. the polygamy is not such a good idea. psychologically as well.
and i don't accept the feminist argument in favor of it. >> hello, i'm a fan of your work. in your book title speaks my life issues [inaudible] so i have to get this book and i couldn't put it down. i loved it on so many levels. especially recruiting your voice. ..
>> turquoise like what i'm wearingd so brilliantly and bright and my orange afghan passport which allowed me to return to america. i kissed the ground at idle wild, now kennedy airport. literally, the land of liberty and libraries. i was that -- [laughter] i had to fight to stay here because the state department started hounding me. when my visa was up. so i said i will chain myself to the statue of liberty, i'm to not leaving.
and -- but it took three and a half years of he wouldn't get divorced, he wanted me the -- me to come back. unbelievable stuff. so, and then a song. i had probably one of servants who i wanted to come out with me. she's tightly enmeshed in the tribal network that's clan and family and where would she be but lost in america. she may have taught me the song, it could have been a young brother, but i felt it was very important to have it. yes. >> i, too, grew up this -- [inaudible] and i recently went back to borough park a couple months ago, and the similarities between your afghanistan and the separation of men and women was so incredible, i could not walk
down the street because there were groups of men, and they bout faced. and -- about faced. and it's really incredible what has happened to a neighborhood in 50 years. it's been ghettoized and certainly not feminized. and -- >> well, you know, muslim women have to pray at the back of a mosque behind thick curtains x they can barely see or hear, and there are ultra orthodox women who are in a similar position. and there are feminists fighting against this if all of the relations. -- religions. the it's a hard fight. i'd say it's the symbol of the fight in jewish todayism. judaism. borough park, i don't understand what happened. the jews got so scared that they retreated into the past thinking that extreme traditionalism save them or will save judaism.
it's horrifying. now, i don't like, i don't like the heavy, shapeless, unflattering garments that the women have to wear in certain sects, but in modern orthodox sects they wear chandeliers on shabazz. i went to try on some calf tans -- calf tans, and i thought i would nearly lose my life because the women in the dressing room were very tough women. and so you think, oh, religious women, and they're underfoot, they're meek -- no, they're not meek. they're aggressive towards other women, and when it comes to purchasing items that they want with. but, you know, i'll share with you a sorrow that even as you have feminist interpretations of torah and of the quran and of the new testament and women are
assuming serious religious authorities in these religions that we have a backward drift that is upsetting, very upsetting. yes. finish. >> i wondered if you learned, i guess it's pashtu is the local language? >> dari or pashtun. >> did you learn enough of the local language to be able to converse with other women without an intermediary to learn how women in afghanistan felt about their status, their life, their -- what they had? >> well, i have since then, but at the time i was 20, and i was trapped, and i was isolated, and i was watched. if i wanted to go out, even
though i escaped a number of times, they understood that i would need a chauffer, a driver, a male escort and a female relative to help me. and, indeed, you could easily get lost. so i spoke to the women in my family in english and french, in semi-yiddish german. i begged every day, every day more a teacher in dari or pashtun, and i wrote all the words down phonetically, went around pointing to things asking what's this, what's this. but i did not get that tutor. on the other hand, when i was near unto death and had hepatitis that had killed every other foreigner that season in kabul and i begged for a there, it took a very long -- for a doctor, it took a very long time for me to get one. so cheaply is female life held. there's no way we can conceive of it. we don't believe it. i thought my jewish mother if i
had a fever, a slight fever be, we would be off to the pediatrician or at the emergency room. here i at 106, oh, she's going the live or die. finally, a doctor came with no expertise and said she's nervous like the other foreigners. so did i go -- i saw incredible things that i write about this in the book. i mean, i wanted to start visiting hospitals which are, which are in terrible shape now were it not for western intervention and international humanitarianism which, by the way, remember i said before that i don't think that we should be there? the moment boots on ground depart, every shelter for battered women, every rape crisis center, every school for girls will be bombed to the seventh century. the question is, do we want to expend more blood and more
treasure going up against tribalism and barbarism where it seems we can't revail with -- prevail with good works and good examples? do we pull out knowing full well what will happen to the children and to the women? this is a question i want america to grapple with. by the way, the taliban really, it's pakistan that has given us the taliban. not merely america of yore. and if we want to really get rid of the taliban, we have to deal with pakistan, a nuclear ally. not so easy. and now we have terrible news, they're about to pass a new law if many afghanistan which will mean -- in afghanistan which will mean no family member can testify against another family member because that will be very
bad for the family, right? what is that telling us? that if a girl finally says they've cut off my nose, my ears, they tortured me, my mother-in-law beats me every day, my brother-in-law beats me every day, she will not have any possibility of access for redress or for a hearing, because that would be badr more family life -- bad for family life. of it was actually in all the papers this past weekend. we leave, it's over. >> how to we resolve this sort of crisis sort of perpetual war with another side of the world, another culture? i mean, the question you raise is what you want america to grapple with is an incredibly interesting and pertinent question. and i wonder if we're really at a stage where we can write about these things, we can discuss these things, but we have no resolution for this.
>> well, lori stewart who wrote an extraordinary book about he walked on foot from that rack to kabul in dead of winter in the footsteps of babo the great, british people can do adventure like nobody else can, and he's now in the british with parliament. and he said that we are not morally obligated, one is not morally obligated to do that which is not possible. so we would like to think that every opportunity is around the next corner, that we can fix it, we can make it better, we can heal the word, we can cure things, we can sit down and use reason are up against a truth that we don't want to accept, that that approach, that humanitarian approach might work. may not work. didn't work with hitler. didn't work with hitler's allies in japan. may not work. alas.
and the muslims who are trapped and who are escaping want support more their embrace of human rights and gay rights and women's rights and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. and that is what we need to offer to those who are here as opposed to saying, well, you know, it's their custom to drape their women in a bed sheet, and we can't say different because it's their religion and it's their choice, and it's a religious choice. oh, they're beating her because she doesn't want to marry the first cousin, and she's 12. well, that's -- we can't pry into private family matters. indeed, every honor killing in canada and in america has had social workers who were remiss, who didn't believe that a family would kill a daughter. and an honor killing is not like
western domestic violence. it's very, very different. it involves the conspiracy of the family against usually a young girl for the smallest infraction of obedience. and when i mean a conspiracy, i'm talking about a mother, a father, sisters, a brother, a cousin, aunt, uncle. all of -- and they increasingly have been tried and convicted in europe. not exactly yet here. and so what we can do here is apply our concept of what is good, what is right, what is lawful, what is legal here for whoever is here. that'll keep us very busy. yes. >> what kind of reception did you get by your family when you finally made it back to the states? >> well, i weighed 90 pounds.
i was very sick. i was very yawn kissed -- jaundiced, and i was very pregnant. and i was ready to walk out of of afghanistan. i was ready to just follow the nomads, although i had rejected that. it happens to be a scene that james michener deals with in caravan, but i rejected that because the nomads would just kidnap me and keep me. i had nothing to give them of value. so i knew that if anyone knew that i was pregnant, i would never be allowed to leave. and i knew that the clock was ticking, and i had to leave. so when i came here, my family -- i called prosecute airport, and they said we're -- from the airport, and they said we're on our way, don't move. they came to get me, my mother and my father, they should both rest in peace. and i went back to college. i had a semester left. i had no intention of not completing my last semester.
my dream was that we would go there, i would meet his family, it would be very sophisticated and so interesting. we did go to iran. we went through europe, oh, what a high life,? as i say in the book, it was very much like an italian film, i thought. he was -- [laughter] he wasn't yulbrenner, he was omar sharif. so hard -- when i came back, i couldn't tell anybody what really had happened because when i tried, they didn't understand and wouldn't believe me. i would say things like slavery, i saw slavery. i saucer haven'ts treated -- saw servants treated like slaves. i'd say the women, they had no value. we went to a maternity hospital, and there was a woman screaming and then it turned out that her husband who would come was fighting with the doctor in
charge because the wife died, the baby was about to die. the father didn't want to have to pay for nothing. he said he's going to to of to pay a lot of money down to get a new wife for all his other kids, so why was the doctor demanding payment? there wasn't a single word, and i had my afghan husband translate all of this for me. there wasn't a single word she's died, this is terrible, i'm so sorry, how could this have happened, how could you have killed her. no, it was about the purchase price of the new bride. so i, i understood where i had been, and i tried to tell a philosophy professor. i said my heart, i'm glad to be back. i've been through hell and back, and i told him a little bit. a very great, famous man. and he said you should have an affair. so i said, he's an idiot.
[laughter] you know? the kind of conversation that i needed to have has only become possible this the 21st century. the kind of understanding, come comprehension, the give and take, so i work with muslim and ex-muslim dissidents, and they get what i'm saying. i don't have to persuade them of anything. and they ask me why more academics and feminists especially don't understand and instead of understanding say, well, everything is culturally relative, everything is multiculturally relativistic. who are we to judge another culture. the very same critics who know full well that america is a bad country, we had slavery here, we're racist, we're sinful, we were imperialist, colonialist,
capitalist. the history of its lam is a very -- islam is a very long history of anti-black racism and slavery, gender and religious apartheid and yet nobody here is saying, oh, my god, so we're all with blood on our hands and maybe islam is not pure. and maybe it could be the tradition has been dangerous first to muslims and then to all others. maybe it's a dangerous tradition. instead, we say, well, you know, we're so guilty. i mean, we're so persuaded by the works of edward said that we're guilty and what matters is racism and anticolonialism, not women's rights, not human rights. -- universal human rights. and i believe that's what we have to focus on. another, yes? >> we keep hearing about sign think and sufi and shia, and i
haven't heard you mention it in afghanistan. is there -- >> there's sunni. they're sunni. they're, like, saudi arabia. shia are in persia, iran. and i said that there was a perpetual, endless civil war between shia and sunni. that's everywhere. iran is shiite, and it now is trying to dominate the gulf states including saudi arabia partly as a religious war, partly as an economic matter. and saudi arabia is sunni. and those in afghanistan are sunni as well. >> that's what i -- >> okay, yes. i didn't know that at the time either. i didn't know that my afghan husband was husband to haveically the most dominant tribe. there are many, many, many tribes in afghanistan. it's basically -- the country is mount now, it's in--
mountainous, it's inhospitable, it is treacherous, it is dangerous from every point of view. people live in small villages, isolated one from the other. they have no interest in a centralized government up until this moment. i hope it changes tomorrow. and it is, afghanistan now is the largest opium producer, and the warlords are making a lot of money from it, forcing the farmers to do that, to cultivate the poppies. and it finds its way to the west. we buy it. we're hooked on it. it killed that wonderful actor, phillip seymour hoffman. well, he killed himself with it. so it is a very, it's a complicated history. again, it's not one that i ever discussed during the court zip and romance -- courtship and romance with my afghan husband.
i have learned it by reading many, many, many books. and by talking to people. so that's the sunni/shia disasters. i wish they could resolve that but, you know, not up to me. yes. >> yes. you said that you were pregnant coming back. >> yes. >> how does the child deal with both world -- >> i think most of the children can't and don't. i had a miscarriage. i was too ill to carry a child. so i didn't even have a choice. but your question if both parties are living in a modern western world, there may be less of an issue. there are some women, and i write about them, who have married muslim men because they
wanted to have a life that was made for them, ready-made. always with company, female company, always with ceremony, always with something to do. no loneliness, no decisions that you have to make in the west when you're sort of free and independent. everything is done together, every rule -- that's like the borrow park, by the way. everything is laid out, rules that you follow. you're set. and, indeed, one of the women at the drop of the veil who i write about in the book, she had a wonderful time in saudi arabia married to a member of the royal family. she was very happy. had fife chirp and then -- had five children and then one day that man said to her i divorce you, i divorce you, i divorce you and i'm taking the kids from you, go away. and she did a very smart thing in the last 20 pages of her book. i was shocked. i was going to use her as an example of somebody who really
made out happily. she said and i, with the help of friends, i kidnap my kids back. and they grew up in america. she was from california. but then she did this marriage in the 1940s. there's somebody even more fabulous in the 1918 from scotland who married a tribal chief's son who became a diplomat, and she is the progenitor of the contemporary writer, so she went there and she wore a burka, and his father said to her, louise saw elizabeth was her scottish name. he said, well, if she'll convert to islam and she knows how to hold the fort with a gun, you can marry her. and she was happy to convert to islam in 1918, and she was a scottish highlander's daughter,
and she knew how to hold a fort. very, very wonderful writing. the best adventure writing is rosita ford's which probably nobody has ever heard of, and she's out of print. i discovered her, and she's in the 1920s and 1930s, and she went everywhere, including afghanistan. the british, as i said, they go without sleep, they go without water, they don't need food -- [laughter] they climb the most rugged landscapes possiblement of and on -- possible. and on horseback. they ride into desert storms, straight into them, just for the fun. and i'm not exaggerating. so i think that we have reached, very rapidly, nearly the end of this wonderful evening. is there, is this about it? >> we have -- [inaudible] one more question over here? sure. >> how did you get a passport? >> you will have to read the book. [laughter]
i got my after taliban pass port -- you read the book, you'll see how. >> [inaudible] >> well, it's -- [laughter] >> if there are no more questions, a reminder -- [inaudible] >> yes. >> a reminder for our internet audience, if you'd like to purchase a copy of "an american bride in kabul," please, call the number on your screen. dr. chesler will sign that for you, we'll mail it to you wherever you are in the u.s. free of charge. all of our live stream events are archived so you can visit the books and books web site. there's a link to the live stream, and any event that we've live streamed you can watch at any time at your convenience. for those of you here in the house, we have "an american bride in kabul," and we also have a selection of